VICTORIA – A quartet of crews from the University Of Victoria Vikes rowing team performed well against some of the fastest university boats in North America this weekend at the San Diego Crew Classic on March 24-25.
The Vikes recorded finishes of fourth in the women’s varsity 8+, third in the men’s lightweight 8, sixth in the women’s varsity Cal Cup 8+ and seventh in the women’s varsity reserve 8+.
Battling against crews that are perennial contenders for NCAA titles, the women’s varsity 8+ more than proved that they can hang with the best by crossing the line in the ‘A’ Final of the Jessop Whittier Invitational in a time of 6:50.5, good enough for fourth place.
“They were sitting in fifth with 500-metres then they rowed back through Washington State University and closed on USC to take fourth in a tough final,” said Vikes head coach Rick Crawley. “We definitely closed the gap this year on the American crews and I am very proud of them for moving back up in the last 500-metres.”
A crew that has dominated the varsity 8+ race in every regatta they have attended throughout the season, the result in San Diego was one of the best from the Vikes in recent years.
The lone crew from the Vikes men’s team was also in tough, racing in a straight final against crews from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Temple University.
“The men performed very well, they executed their race plan with precision and were quick to respond to moves made by both MIT and Temple,” said Vikes lightweight coach Grant Shapka. “This was a very tough event against two extremely fast and highly experienced crews from the East Coast. We knew going into this race that it was going to be a dogfight, and that’s exactly what we got.”
In the end, the Vikes time of 6:24.6 saw them finish in third place, but it was still another step forward for a lightweight program that continues to grow.
“Unfortunately the American crews simply had more experience and power than us and were able to edge ahead in the final 250-metres,” said Shapka. “It’s enormously difficult to place 3rd of 3 boats, however the men are proud of the race they delivered and are looking forward to developing the lightweight process moving forward.”
The reserve eight boat picked up the lone Vikes victory down in San Diego, crossing the line in a time of 7:16.2 to win the ‘B’ Final of the Jackie Ann Stitt Hungness Cup. In an event that had 18 entries, the boat did well to battle back after suffering the disappointment of just missing out on a spot in the ‘A’ Final.
“They came together nicely for this regatta, seventh place and winning the ‘B’ Final is a good accomplishment for a young crew,” said Crawley. “Coach Langerfeld did a nice job keeping them focused.”
The final Vikes boat in action down in San Diego performed extremely well despite rowing against crews that held an advantage over them.
Due to a limited number of entries, the Vikes lightweight women were unable to defend the A. W. Coggeshall Cup that they claimed last year. Instead the team was forced into the Cal Cup, where they would be competing against heavyweight crews.
Despite their disadvantage, the Vikes persevered, advancing to the ‘A’ Final where a steady head wind prevented them from finishing higher up the standings than sixth.
“Lane 6 is a tough row on any day but especially with a head wind,” said Crawley. “They did an exceptional job keeping it respectable.”
In total, there can be no doubt that the Vikes learned some valuable lessons and are much improved by facing such fierce competition this past weekend.
“I think there will be a huge return on this investment of taking three crews to San Diego,” said Crawley of the Vikes women. “We just don’t get this level of competition in Canada and all crews came away with great learning experiences and very respectable performances.
Next up is one of the biggest weekends of the racing season for both the Vikes men’s and women’s teams. In two weeks time they will travel to Burnaby where they will face off against the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds in four head-to-head battles for the prestigious Brown Cup.
Women’s Varsity 8+ Jessop Whittier Cup Final
1. California (6:36.9)
2. Texas (6:41.7)
3. USC (6:49.2)
4. UVic (6:50.6)
Men’s LWT 8+ Secretary of the Navy Cup Final
1. Temple (6:19.2)
2. MIT (6:22.1)
3. UVic (6:24.6)
Women’s Varsity 8+ Cal Cup Final
1. San Diego State (7:08.5)
2. Sacramento State (7:14.4)
3. SMU (7:16.3)
6. UVic (7:27.3)
Women’s Reserve 8+ Jackie Ann Stitt Hungness B Final
1. UVic (7:16.2)
2. Gonzaga (7:18.83)
3. Tenessee (7:18.89)